After the prologue of his first epistle (1 John 1:1-4), the Apostle John writes to his fellow believers in order to help them grow in sanctification and cease from sinning (1 John 2:1). So, he first calls us to self-examination: believers ought to remember that they are “in the Light” (in knowledge and holiness, 1 John 1:5-7), while as the same time remembering that they also continue to have “sin in them” (1 John 1:8-10).
In addition to examining ourselves, however, we are called to quickly look to Jesus in Christ-examination. And, when we examine the Christ of Scripture, we find that Jesus is our Advocate before the Father (1 John 2:1, the One who pleads His case and His merits on our behalf before our holy Judge). Second, we are to remember that Jesus Christ is “the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:2, He appeased the wrath of God for us).
Well, once we’ve done some Scripture-guided self-examination and Christ-examination, it’s important for us to then examine our calling (1 John 2:3-6):
3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.
4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;
5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him:
6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.
Do you want to know what your calling is, as a Christian? 1 John 2:6 gives us the answer. Ultimately, if you profess Christ – if you say that you are in Him, your calling is to imitate your Savior and Lord – “to walk in the same manner as He walked.” Christian, for you, this is a moral imperative – an ethical command. That’s what “ought” means – it’s something that you ought to do.
There’s a common saying that goes something like this, “You can’t understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” Think about this concept with respect to your relationship with Jesus. If you abide in Christ and want to learn more about Him, one of the best ways to get to know Him is by walking in His shoes – keep His commandments or keep His word (1 John 2:3-5).
Remembering Who We Are in Christ
While I was in college, I served in the Army in two very different roles. And, serving in these two very different roles often led to much confusion. As an enlisted man in the Army Reserves – one weekend a month, and two weeks a year, I was Private Dietsch. But, during the week while at college in R.O.T.C., I was Cadet Dietsch – officer in training. As a result, I had to be very careful and make sure that I put the correct uniform on for the appropriate occasion.
Well, on one occasion, while training in R.O.T.C. at Fort Dix, NJ, we were sharing a dining facility with some of the basic trainees who were there. As we were making our way into the dining facility one morning, there was a group of Basic Trainees waiting in line to eat. As we drew near, one of the privates yelled, “At ease, make way!” which translated into the civilian vernacular means – “There’s a person of rank coming, get out of his way!” At that point, all of the privates (and one cadet – namely me) jumped and slammed our backs against the walls, trying to get out of the way for this person of rank that we had been alerted to.
I stood there looking and waiting, and I began to think that maybe it was a false alarm. So, I looked at the other men who had their backs against the wall with me, and they were all staring at me like I had antlers growing out of my head! That’s when it hit me. That’s when I realized that the reason that one of these privates had reacted and hollered, “At Ease, Make Way!” was because of the rank on my collar! And, there I was, still acting like a Private, when I should have been responding like an officer – or at least, like a cadet officer in training.
Now, over the course of my college life in R.O.T.C., I learned more and more how to act and behave like an officer and not like an enlisted man, but it took some hard work. Little by little, I learned to not react to situations like an enlisted man, but as an officer.
Likewise, believers are often pulled in two very different directions. You and I were born in sin. We are by nature – children of wrath. But, God, in Christ, has rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
And, so, now, as those who have been given a new status – a new rank, if you will – you are called to live and walk according to that new status. Christ has redeemed you from the curse of the law and made you a new creation. He calls you to walk in that newness of life. To learn how to live as a child of God, walking in the light – walking in the same manner as Jesus walked.
If you have been purchased by the precious blood of Jesus Christ – if your citizenship is in heaven – if you are a child of God – then, your Heavenly Father calls you to deliberately discipline yourself and to learn all that you can about what it means to be a follower of Christ.
So, where do you learn how walk as Jesus walked? Well, you study His life and you study His Law – God’s commandments. Herman Bavinck, the great Dutch theologian put it this way:
The law is an expression of God’s being. As a human being Christ was subject to the law for Himself. Before the fall, Adam had the law written upon his heart. With the believer it is again written upon the tablets of his heart by the Holy Spirit. And all those in heaven will walk according to the law of the Lord.
The Gospel is temporary, but the law is eternal and is restored precisely through the Gospel. Freedom from the law consists, then, not in the fact that the Christian has nothing more to do with the law, but lies in the fact that the law demands nothing more from the Christian as a condition of salvation. The law can no longer judge and condemn him. Instead he delights in the law of God according to the inner man and yearns for it day and night. (Herman Bavinck, “The Law-Gospel Distinction in Preaching”).
So, Christian – how is your walk? Do you delight in the law of God according to the inner man and yearn for it, day and night? Are you walking like Jesus? Are you following your guide, as He directs you toward the path of righteousness? Are you walking according to the commandments of God?
If you are in Christ, that is who you are – and that is your calling – you are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works – Good works, which God prepared beforehand…so that you would walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).